He pushes me down on the bed and climbs on top of me, lowering his face to my neck. His lips kiss a trail from my throat up to my lips before he pulls back. “When did you know you loved me?”
“That’s so hard to answer.”
“Try.” His lips touch mine again. “I want to know.”
I slide my hands up the back of his shirt, reveling in the warmth of his skin, as I think back to our weekend trapped in his truck during the blizzard.
“There were so many moments,” I finally say. “When you held me in the truck and stopped my panic attack…then when you told me how you saved Niko. How you carried me around in the snow. And when we held hands and slept together in the cabin.” I smile at the memories. “But I think what really did it was when you came and took care of me when I was sick, and you even remembered my favorite latté. You listened to me, like really listened to me.” I stroke his cheek as he takes in every word. “Christmas with you was amazing too. You know what? I think I fall more in love with you every day. I just keep falling and falling and falling.”
“I know the feeling.”
“When did you know?”
“All those same times you did…but there was just this feeling I had, right from the start, when I found you in your car. Even though you were acting like a bat-shit insane lunatic, I knew you were the one.”
I giggle and kiss him. “Thanks a lot.”
“Honestly? I liked how real you were. There’s nothing fake about you. And I liked that I could be myself with you. I didn’t want that weekend to end. I wanted to stay in that truck with you forever, and I didn’t give a fuck about anything else.”
At least once a day I ask the universe how I got so lucky to have Storm in my life. Much like a storm, he blew into my life, created a bunch of unexpected turmoil, and then whisked me away from it all toward sunny skies.
We’re on our way to Storm’s grandmother’s house, where we’re having lunch with her and any other members of his family who happen to be there. Gram’s house is like a hub—someone is always visiting or staying with her for a few days.
Our wedding is less than a month away, and Aria wants to discuss last-minute details tomorrow over breakfast. I’m pretty detailed out, to be honest. The past few weeks have been a blur with moving to a new house, taking care of wedding plans, and trying to keep up with work-related responsibilities. Since Storm’s band is on an extended break, he’s had time to be involved with everything, which I love. He helped pick out wedding cake flavors, our wedding bands, and dinner choices for the reception, and he took care of everything related to the honeymoon. He insisted on having pre-wedding photos taken at our new house with the pets, putting little bowties on Niko and Halo so they could pose with us. His cousin Vandal’s girlfriend, Tabi, is a talented photographer and captured romantic photos of us in our backyard as the sun set behind us. Then she took some adorable ones with the pets. Storm had our favorites printed on canvas and hung them all over the house, and every time I walk by one I’m stunned that it’s me in those photos; smiling, happy, madly in love.
My phone beeps as we’re driving, and I pull it out of my purse to see a text message from an old familiar number on my screen. Oh, shit.
MICHAEL: Can we talk? You haven’t answered any of my calls or texts in over six months.
My brow creases. Michael has the worst timing. I don’t want to think about him or talk to him today, or ever.
ME: What do you want? I have nothing to say to you.
MICHAEL: You’ve been avoiding me since you moved out.
ME: We broke up. There’s no reason to talk. That was forever ago!
MICHAEL: Don’t you think everything happened too fast? We had a fight and you just left and shacked up.
Is he serious right now?
ME: I didn’t shack up. Why do we have to re-hash this? You had a girlfriend, remember? You were lying to me for years. And I fell in love with someone else. It’s over.
MICHAEL: I just think we should talk before you go any further with your crazy plans.
ME: I’m getting married in less than a month. I’m happy. There are no crazy plans. WTF.
MICHAEL: He’s going to hurt you.
ME: YOU hurt me. He loves me. Stop bothering me.
“Who are you texting so ferociously to over there?” Storm asks from the driver’s seat.
“Michael? What the hell does he want?”
“To talk, apparently. He thinks I shouldn’t go any further with my crazy plans. He’s an ass.”
His knuckles whiten as he grips the steering wheel tighter. “He’s jealous and he’s trying to get in your head. Give me the phone.” He holds his hand out.
He wags his fingers. “Hand it over.”
I place the phone in his waiting hand. He glances at the screen, presses a button, and holds the phone to his ear.
“Surprise, it’s not Evelyn. Look Mike, it’s time to let go and move on, because if you don’t, I’m going to have to find some creative ways to make you. Yeah…I know…it’s not a threat, man, just laying down the truth. Good.” He nods. “Don’t call, don’t text. No man, don’t even listen to my music. Do I sound like I’m kidding? Get your shit together, bro.”
He ends the call and hands the phone back to me with a grin. “What?” he says innocently.
“Nothing.” I lean across the car and kiss his cheek. “I just love you.”
“My favorite grandson is here!” Gram exclaims happily when Storm and I walk into the living room.
“Gram, you just told me an hour ago I was your favorite.” Mikah is perching on the edge of the fireplace, where he’s playing a game on his cell phone.
“You’re all my favorites, honey, just at different times and in different ways,” Gram replies as Storm and I take turns leaning down to kiss her hello.
“Evie, you look beautiful. You’re glowing.”
My cheeks blush with warmth as I sit on the loveseat a few feet away from the recliner she’s relaxing in. Storm sits on the floor next to her and holds her hand.
“Thank you, Gram,” I reply. “You look gorgeous yourself.” She always looks beautiful and happy, but today she appears a little more frail and tired than she did when we visited her a few weeks ago, and her delicate hand, in Storm’s, is shaking slightly.
“I bought the most perfect dress for your wedding,” she tells us. “And I ran into Joe and Nancy from across the street, they have nothing to do the day of your wedding so I invited them. You don’t mind, do you? They’re always so nice to me. She brings me homemade honey. Their son is a beekeeper.”
“Of course they can come, Gram.” Storm winks at me and I smile back at him. I’m fine with Storm’s family inviting their friends—the more the merrier.
Mikah stands and shoves his phone into his back pocket. “If you guys are gonna talk about wedding stuff, I’m outta here.”
“Just make sure you show up the day of the wedding.” Storm calls out after him.
“It’s open bar, of course I’ll be there!”
“He’s so grumpy,” Gram says once Mikah has left the house. “He needs a nice girl like you, Evie.”
“Mikah doesn’t like nice girls, Gram,” Storm says. “He likes dirty, bad girls.”
She waves her free hand in the air. “Oh, that’s just a phase. And I told him he better not get drunk at your wedding and act like a fool. I’m getting too old for all the shenanigans with you boys.”
Stifling a giggle, I stand and head for the kitchen. “I’m going to get lunch ready, you relax with Storm, Gram.” I always like to give them some time alone to talk when we visit. Especially if they’re talking about the other guys, because I don’t need to hear all the crazy and gory details of their personal lives.
I heat up a pot of Gram’s homemade chicken soup, make a big bowl of mixed salad greens, and put a handful of soft rolls in a basket. Just as I’m finishing setting the table, Storm and Gram join me, hand in hand. He helps her into a chair then takes a seat next to me.
“Thank you for doing everything,” he whispers, leaning close to kiss my shoulder.
“Evelyn, when are you due?” Gram eyes us from over the rims of her glasses as she spreads butter onto her roll.
I choke on my soup. Storm looks at Gram, then at me, then back at Gram.
“Due? For what?” he asks, wide-eyed.
“For the baby. You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”
“No,” I say quickly, wiping my mouth with my napkin. “I’m not pregnant.”
“She’s not pregnant,” Storm says. “Right, babe?” He looks at me like a deer in headlights.
Gram studies me with her wise eyes and loving smile. “You have that baby glow. I’ve never been wrong.”
I look at Storm and shake my head. “No…I’m just really happy and excited about the wedding, and finally living together. I’ve never been this happy. And I just started using a new face cream. And I’m drinking a lot more water. We’re not planning for a baby yet.” I want to run and examine myself in Gram’s full-length mirror to see if I look fat. I’ve been watching what I eat, walking on the treadmill, and having sex like crazy almost every night. Surely I’m burning a ton of calories. People are so critical of brides, and once our wedding pictures hit social media, the female fans of the band will be scrutinizing me and zooming in on our photos. The last thing I need is to see hundreds of comments saying I look chubby and bloated.